Posts Tagged ‘Goodfellas’

Ezra’s Top Ten Favorite Movies Of 2013

Posted 01 Mar 2014 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Behind the Candelabra is a delightfully decadent look at the life of Liberace, brilliantly played by Michael Douglas in one of his very best performances. Every year, I struggle with the relatively arbitrary process of ranking movies, so this year I’ve decided to do something a little different. Instead of a traditional Top Ten list, I’m grouping two thematically connected films together for each place on the list, resulting in a hopefully more interesting Top 20 list. I’ve also included a more traditional Top Ten below that, for all you “too long, didn’t read” folks. One final note before we get to the list: it should tell you a lot about my credibility as a film critic that I liked Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa more than most of the Academy Award Best Picture nominees for 2013.

10. THE WICKER MAN: FINAL CUT / JURASSIC PARK 3-D – BEST RE-RELEASES. Obviously, this category doesn’t really count, as both of these films were originally released decades ago, but I can’t deny that each of them provided one of the most enjoyable experiences I had in a movie theater in 2013. This new cut of the original 1973 classic The Wicker Man adds some nuance and more musical numbers to an already great film. Most crucially, it opens with a scene of Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) praying in church, emphasizing his piousness from the very start, which enriches the events to follow. Jurassic Park, on the other hand, is quite simply my favorite movie (it has the most dinosaurs in it – I rest my case), and seeing it on a big screen again, in 3-D no less, made me fall in love with it all over again.  Read More

A Dangerous Method – Cronenberg At His Most “Respectable”

Posted 24 Jun 2012 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

A Dangerous Method, UK / Germany / Canada / Switzerland

Directed by David Cronenberg

A Dangerous Method could be called the final film in director David Cronenberg's Viggo Mortensen trilogy. A Dangerous Method could be called the final film in director David Cronenberg’s Viggo Mortensen trilogy. Beginning with 2005’s A History of Violence, Cronenberg has used the estimable actor in each film he’s made up until now, with the brief exception of his short film for the 2007 anthology To Each His Own Cinema (the wonderfully titled “At the Suicide of the Last Jew in the World in the Last Cinema in the World”), in which only Cronenberg himself starred. This triptych of films, which also includes 2007’s Russian mob story Eastern Promises, marks a distinct departure from the type of filmmaking that made Cronenberg’s name synonymous with gruesome, highly physical horror – see masterpieces like Scanners (1981), Videodrome (1983), The Fly (1986) and Dead Ringers (1988) – and ever more into the territory of restrained human drama. While it lacks some of the visceral punches (the “Cronenberg touches,” as many reviewers called them) found in the previous two films, Method is probably the most consistent and accomplished work, and though it is certainly a bit drier, it is no less consummately entertaining.  Read More

I Love You Phillip Morris

Posted 06 May 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

I Love You Phillip Morris is a unique and hilarious romantic comedy. I Love You Phillip Morris, France / USA, 2009

Written and Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa

This is one of the best and most unusual romantic comedies I have ever seen. The way it subverts the genre and toys with audience expectations is truly exceptional, which is probably what should be expected from co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the writing team behind the highly unusual and subversive Christmas movie Bad Santa (2003). They followed that with the lazy Bad News Bears remake (2005), which basically retread the same ground in a much less funny and original way, but for that I shall give them a pass, mainly because Santa is so severely excellent (it has replaced Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life as the traditional Christmas Eve movie in my family).

I Love You Phillip Morris is a film that lives up to the promise shown in that previous work. It begins by assuring us that “This really happened … No, really, it did,” a disclaimer that becomes increasingly necessary as the story unfolds. Jim Carrey plays Steven Russell, whose book I Love You Phillip Morris: A True Story of Life, Love, and Prison Breaks provided the source material for the film, and it is quite possibly the very best performance of his entire career. Carrey, who was always known as an energetic physical comedian but not really seen as a seriously good actor until the late ’90s when he began tackling weightier roles in films like Peter Weir’s The Truman Show (1998) and Milos Forman’s Man on the Moon (1999), dips into his whole repertoire here, employing his trademark grinning facial contortions and manic slapstick while also tugging the heartstrings with a portrayal of surprising emotional depth. This variety of technique is perfectly suited to the character of Steven, a con artist who is never quite what he seems and constantly pulls from a huge bag of manipulative tricks to get what he wants and needs, first because, as he puts it, “Being gay is really expensive,” and later in doing whatever it takes to be with the love of his life. Read More

The Departed – A Remake Better Left Unmade

Posted 01 Sep 2009 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Corey Birkhofer

The Departed, USA / Hong Kong, 2006

Directed by Martin Scorsese

leonardo dicaprio matt damen jack nicholson

Don’t get me wrong. Remakes can work. I actually liked the American remake of Seven Samurai (The Magnificent Seven). Hell, I even enjoyed The Ring and The Grudge remakes after seeing the original Japanese versions of both. But when Martin Scorsese decided to remake Infernal Affairs (2002), one of my favorite more recent Hong Kong films, I have to admit some lines were crossed.

Before I get too ahead of myself, let’s contemplate for a minute why remakes are even made in the first place. If the original was so inspiring, why does it need to be redone? And in one’s remaking of an original work, what do the creators intend to change to make it, in their minds, better? I think this gives a hint as to why films are remade in the first place, but there’s also the question of accessibility and reception. How will the original work be received if the audience has to sit through a film with (gasp!) subtitles? Sadly, the general American moviegoer is definitely not up for a film where they have to sit and read words on the screen. Unfortunately for these viewers, they miss out on a wealth of amazing films. And yet, with these moviegoers being the ones who fill movie seats, they are the judge and jury of what kind of films get greenlit; thus we get foreign films perfectly fine being left the way they are getting remade to be more attuned to American audiences.

That being said, though the original Infernal Affairs was a box office smash hit in China, who was to say it would be as big of a hit when it came to the states? Though Miramax did bring the original Infernal Affairs over for a relatively successful limited release in 2004 (two years after its release in China), I guess Scorsese just couldn’t resist taking a stab at the narrative himself. I remember back in 2004 when I was still reeling from the excitement after seeing the original Infernal Affairs, only to find out Scorsese was planning to make his own American version. With Scorsese at the helm I was actually pretty excited at the time, but flashing forward three years after The Departed came out in 2006, I’m definitely wishing I could go back to a moment in time when this film did not exist.

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